By Jerome Kagan
Basic Books, $28.99, 333 pages
World-renowned psychologist and Harvard professor Jerome Kagan’s most recent book, The Human Spark: The Science of Human Development, is densely packed full of both well and lesser known research and studies based on biology, social class, family environment, community and more. He swiftly moves from study to study, discarding the ones that have been proven inaccurate, and stating others that may turn out to be true. Kagan understands psychologists and scientists do not have enough information to answer the fundamental question of what makes a person who he or she is, but they are on the path toward discovery.
Readers may be able to prove assertions incorrect based on their own experience and knowledge, and the book is too broad to delve into the specifics of any one area of interest. Although it’s not the most engaging read as it flows from study to study with inserted tangents, it’s doubtful that even the most well-read armchair psychologist could walk away without learning something new.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins